high end hair advertising key visual | concept, retouch & colorization
This image has been kindly provided by beauty and fashion photographer Armin Morbach.

final image

general idea / briefing

The concept for this campaign was to make the models "twin" in the mirror wear the new SYOSS color shades inspired by pantone.

Therefore is has been essential to first to retouch the skin in a very natural and subtle way, taking out temporary imperfections, while remaining the natural skin texture. Second, the overlapping hair of the two models had to be separated with precise masks. Having the masks, I was enabled to create the effect in an invisible way, leaving no traces.

first step - raw conversion in Capture One Pro

The journey of every professional image always starts in CaptureOne, which is my go to software for any raw conversion. In this case, I created a fairly neutral conversion, making sure that details in all tonal ranges are in good balance. Making use of all information of the raw, in this stage color shifts and tonal inconsistencies can be taken care of. 

By having a neutral conversion, meaning no color grading has been applied in the raw conversion, I have a perfect base to start from. It gives me flexibility over the final look, since I can make use of my non-destructive workflow in Adobe Photoshop in the upcoming retouching stage.

second step - markup & notes

As you can see in the mark up and visual notes, these areas need to be retouched and adjusted. The brief is clear, there are areas where hair needs to be filled up. single hairs or strands need to be removed or smoothed. Very subtle retouching is needed on the models face. You can already see the desired color reference for the twin in the mirror.

third step - clean up and dodging & burning

The skin will be retouched in a very natural way, only taking out the texture, that is not smooth and roots in temporary imperfections. The main focus in this image lies on creating a flawless and healthy hair structure. Since a colorization from blonde to golden brown is briefed, I need to make sure no distracting cross hair or holes in the hair structure is emphasized by the new color. 

Aside from pixel work and filling gaps and holes with texture from this image or other source images, non-destructive techniques such as dodging & burning (painting with light) are applied to maintain the original hair structure, while enhancing the overall appearance.

fourth step - precise masking, color correction and colorization of the hair, recreating a realistic hair outline

As explained before, exact and detailed masks of the models hair are key to accomplishing a believable and realistic result. Especially the hair outline of both models needs to be taken care of. Only this way, the colorization will be applied to the correct areas and can be changed with ease in the later process. If you take a look at the provided close up view of the two heads, you can clearly see the natural and clean outline.

The hair color is adjusted to match the reference color by the hair product brand. In this case both hairstyles of the models have been adjusted to a reference provided by the brand.

fifth step - introducing a flexible and subtle grain finish

In order to make sure the final image has a natural and convincing look and feel, I love to introduce a very subtle and flexible grain layer, that adjusts automatically to any format change or crop desired. I use my grain patterns on individual adjustment layers, that I have extracted from original analogue film.

The final image can now be delivered to the client for further use.